Thursday, September 14, 2017

Senate Amendments to HR 2810 (FY 2018 NDAA) – 9-13-17

Yesterday the Senate actually began consideration of HR 2810, the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Meanwhile, more amendments continue to be proposed. In addition to the previously proposed amendments (see here, here, here and here) a large number of possible amendments to HR 2180 were proposed in the Senate yesterday; including five that may be of specific interest to readers of this blog:

• SA 1003. Mr. MCCAIN - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 substitute language (pgs S5487-671);
• SA 1009. Mr. SASSE - cyberspace solarium commission (pgs S5674-6);
• SA 1019. Ms. HARRIS - pilot program on integrating into the department of defense workforce individuals with cybersecurity skills and technical expertise whose services are supported by private persons (pg S5678);
• SA 1025. Mr. WHITEHOUSE - botnet prevention (pgs S5680-1); and
• SA 1055. Mr. PORTMAN - report on cyber applications of blockchain technology (pg S5701-2)

Substitute Language

The substitute language (SA 1003) from Sen. McCain (R,AZ), and the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is arguably the most important amendment to be offered to date, as it will form the working basis for the language that will be considered on the floor of the Senate. This language is based (as expected) on S 1519, the original Senate NDAA bill and it includes each of the cybersecurity related sections that I identified in S 1519.

Cyberspace Solarium Commission

SA 1009 would require DOD to establish the Cyberspace Solarium Commission with a mandate to “develop a consensus on a strategic approach to protecting the crucial advantages of the United States in cyberspace against the attempts of adversaries to erode such advantages” {SA 1009(a)}. The name harkens back to Eisenhower’s 1953 National Security Council’s Solarium Special Committee that was used to help formulate Eisenhower’s containment strategy vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.

The Commission would be tasked with {SA 1009(f)}:

• Weighing the costs and benefits of various strategic options to reach the goal of protecting the US cyberspace advantage;
• Reviewing adversarial strategies and intentions, current programs for the protection of the US cyberspace advantage, and the capabilities of the Federal Government to understand if and how adversaries are currently being deterred or thwarted in their aims and ambitions; and
• Evaluating the current allocation of resources for understanding adversarial strategies and intentions and protecting the US cyberspace advantage.

Botnet Prevention

This proposed amendment from Sen. Whitehouse (D,RI) and Sen. Graham (R,SC) is very similar to S 2931 that was introduced in the 114th Congress by Graham and Whitehouse. This amendment does not deal with DOD issues, but the Senate rules do allow for the consideration of extraneous amendments.

Moving Forward

The Senate held a cloture vote today on the McCain substitute language amendment and it passed with a bipartisan vote of 84 to 9. When the Congressional Record for today is published tomorrow I expect that we will see that some amendments were dealt with today, but at this point I have no idea which ones.

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